4G auction delay inspires proposals to slash red tape


Appeals such as O2 and T-Mobile’s over the auction of 4G licences would not be allowed under rules proposed by the government today (June 19)

The government has proposed changing the appeals process against regulatory decisions to avoid future auctions for mobile spectrum being delayed like the 4G one.

The department of business, innovation and skills (BIS) today (June 19) put forward a number of changes designed to streamline the appeals process.

BIS said the 4G auction, held earlier this year, highlighted how appeals and the threat of litigation can delay decisions on the roll out of key infrastructure.

O2 and T-Mobile’s appeal in 2008 against an Ofcom plan to auction spectrum in the 2.6GHz band delayed the sale until this year.

The changes proposed today mean similar appeals would not be allowed. They include making the standard of review for appeals more consistent between sectors, focusing appeals on identifying whether regulators have made material mistakes.

The proposed reforms would also include measures to encourage better engagement between regulators and firms before decisions are made.

Business minister Jo Swinson said: “It is only right that firms can hold regulators and competition authorities to account when they think the wrong decision has been reached. But it is in nobody’s interest that appeals end up being unnecessarily lengthy and costly.

“A new streamlined system will mean that businesses see their appeals sorted quicker and that they and regulators spend less time and legal resources on disputes. Reduced delays will help build a stronger economy and provide better outcomes for consumers.”